The conclusion of the Compulsory Purchase Order process culminating in the transfer of ownership of the former Finlay/O’Neill’s site in the heart of the town to Westmeath County Council will enable the progression of the Athlone Town Enhancement Scheme.
Confirming the news this week, Athlone Town Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, noted that the commanding and commercially advantageous site location could now be included in future plans for the town centre’s enhancement.
“For more than ten years now the old Finlay/O’Neill’s site has been an eye sore in the heart of our town centre. The site occupies a commanding and commercially advantageous position in the very heart of our town. Every visitor to the town since 2010 has surely passed it and it can’t have left a good impression.
“However, I am very pleased to say that thankfully the end to a very long period of uncertainty has finally arrived. When it became clear to me in recent years that neither the pub proprietors or the auctioneers (who previously operated from this location ) would be rebuilding on the site, I insisted that the Council would actively and robustly pursue the matter with the vendors and purchase the site.
“The Council were not always enthusiastic about buying the site, but that was then. Despite everyone’s best efforts negotiations repeatedly collapsed.
“A Compulsory Purchase Order process was the only remaining option and the Council commenced that process in the latter half of 2020. I am delighted to say that the process has concluded without any objectors and therefore, as of May 4 2021, Westmeath County Council are the new owners of the site.
“We can now immediately include this full site in our enhancement design plans for this area of the town which includes Pump Lane, Mardyke Street and Sean Costello Street.
“Government funding is already in place for the design and enhancement of this area, one of our three urban regeneration projects detailed for Athlone.
“While no ultimate purpose has been finalised as of yet for the site, the most likely outcome would be that Westmeath County Council will partner with a private investor to redevelop this site.
“I would like to thank Barry Kehoe, Director of Service for his persistence in this matter and for making himself available when ever required to advance matters,” Cllr O’Rourke concluded.